Meet Steve Paxton -- Dedicated to Dairy
Steve Paxton and his brother, Joe, own and operate Irishtown Acres Dairy in Grove City, PA. The farm is home to 550 Jersey cows and consists of 1,100 acres. Along with managing cattle, Steve and Joe choose to farm their own crops to feed their herd and numerous acres of pasture for their cows to graze on.
The original farm was established in 1809, by the Paxton family. Since then, the farm has gained a few more family members when Steve and Joe were brought into a partnership with their father in 1977, as the fifth generation to operate the farm. Currently, Steve’s son Silas and Joe’s son Scott, along with his wife Renee, all work on the farm full time.
All members of the Paxton family take great pride in their work and take exceptional care of their animals. Steve pays close attention to details concerning the cattle’s housing, milking and feeding regiments. Cattle of different ages require specific needs throughout their development and Steve acknowledges that animals will only perform as well as the care they are given. Cattle’s health and high productivity are maintained through these diligent practices at Irishtown Acres Dairy.
Along with efforts to take great care of their cattle, the Paxtons also go to great measures utilizing best management practices to be good stewards of their land. During the winter months cover crops are used to conserve the soil, as well as conservative tillage practices and strip cropping to keep the land productive. Crops are also rotated between fields from year to year, while manure produced by the dairy is carefully distributed across the acres on the farm. All these practices ensure crop productivity and manage health of the land while having enough forages to feed their cattle.
Growing up on his family’s dairy farm inspired him to continue in his father’s footsteps. Steve mentions the reasons he loves to farm as “I enjoy working with the cattle and all the challenges related to having our own business.” Steve cites some of those challenges as transitioning the farm to the next generation and meeting environmental guidelines set forth by governmental agencies. Educating the consumer with accurate information about agriculture, farming practices and the environment is also an up and coming challenge anyone in the agriculture community understands. Though, through these challenges, Steve finds great joy in the hard work he does every day and recognizes the future of their dairy is strong. The Paxton farming operation is well suited on the east coast where a large percent of Americans live and need access to fluid milk and milk products.
Steve stated a challenge of farming today would be to educate the consumer about on-farm practices to produce the safe and wholesome food supply we have in America. Steve mentions, “Our milk meets high quality standards at our milk processor and our cattle are very healthy and properly cared for.” Milk from the Irishtown Acres Dairy is shipped to a processing plant to be made into pizza cheese. This type of cheese requires a high quality milk in order for the cultures to grow properly in the cheese making process. In addition, due to the exceptional care the Paxtons take of their cattle, their herd has a very low cull rate. This means Irishtown Acres markets only about 60 cows a year, at the end of their productive life.
Along with playing a large role in the family business, Steve is also active in his community, starting with his position as a local township supervisor. Steve also gives back through the local 4-H program where he has been a leader for 38 years. Furthermore, he serves as a board member of the Mercer County Penn State Extension and the Mercer County PA Farm Bureau organizations. He’s also the current treasurer of the PA Beef Council Board of Directors.